Technology, knowledge translation and policy : conceptual frameworks and case-studies
The aim of this thesis is to develop, present and then demonstrate conceptual structures that link together an apparently heterogeneous range of research activity about technology in situations which are the subject of decision-making and policy formulation. Technology is considered to be knowledge as applied in organisations, communities, policy contexts and so on. It thus takes in not only the physical processes and output of the engineering sciences but also the new forms of organisation which use that output, their impacts on, and interactions with, people at large and with the so-called natural systems in which those people are embedded and with which they also interact. Methodologically many of the research publications which this thesis incorporates approach technology related issues and problems from the bottom up, from the most microscopic level of the individual human actor, the smallest feasible level of natural and engineered systems. It is an attempt to redress the top down perspectives which dominate technology and science policy formulation and decision making. This approach often requires research interaction at the level of the individual person or at the lowest level of physical and biological activity relevant to the issue at hand and the appropriate techniques for such interaction are debated and demonstrated. The principles of 'translation' or 'mapping' which are capable of being applied to a range of interactions between different domains (physically engineered, diverse individuals and knowledge) are developed. The thesis then shows how the representation of responses of people to products and services has evolved and begins to focus on organisations as suppliers of those products and processes. Technology is articulated as knowledge in the context of technology transfer into organisations and the thesis shows how those ideas evolved into the concept of knowledge dynamics in organisations. The problems of interactions which involve bio- physical systems as well as engineered systems and people and the issues of sustainability and policy relevant research are introduced. The nature of integrative interdisciplinary research about these issues is presented as a form of knowledge dynamics. The thesis shows how the concepts above can be used to distinguish between policy and decision relevant issues, and how they help to provide a conceptual framework within which the similarities and differences between knowledge policy in organisations and science research policy can be compared. Thus it is a series of interdisciplinary explorations into complex decision and policy relevant situations in which technology, in the form of knowledge and as the study of interaction between the designed physical world, people, organisations and natural systems, is a constant theme.